Boys track and field: Scouting Lake County

  • Grant's Jason Thormo heads for the finish line in the 400-meter dash during the Class 3A boys state track and field finals in Charleston last season.

      Grant's Jason Thormo heads for the finish line in the 400-meter dash during the Class 3A boys state track and field finals in Charleston last season. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/4/2019 7:33 PM


ANTIOCHCoach: Chris Bailey (10th season)


Last season: first in NLCC meet, second in Class 3A Huntley sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Chase Becker (throws), Matt Becker (throws), Nico Fier (pole vault), Zach Grindley (jumps), Mikey Volkmar (middle distance), Robbie Christiansen (sprints, relays), juniors Charlie Smith (3,200, 1,600), TreShawn Watson (sprints, jumps, hurdles), sophomores Dino Kaliakmanis (sprints, hurdles, relays), Athan Kaliakmanis (sprints, hurdles, relays)

Key newcomer: Senior Eli Vanderwagen (jumps)

Outlook: Where to start? The Sequoits are loaded with returning talent from a team that had great success a year ago. Smith won the conference 3,200 and the sectional 1,600. Chase Becker finished eighth in the state in the discus, while Matt Becker won the conference shot and discus titles. Grindley won the conference title and set the school record in the long jump on the way to a state berth. Chase Becker is headed to Southwest Minnesota State, while Grindley will head to UW-LaCrosse and Matt Becker to UW-Stout, while Sebastian Scofield is headed to Carroll College. "We have a well-balanced team this year, maybe our best since I arrived in 2010," said Bailey. "We are scoring in most events, especially in the field. We have good depth in the sprints and our throws might be our strongest event with Chase and Matt Becker (who are not related) being two of the best throwers in the county." Bailey said Grant and Grayslake Central are two teams to keep an eye on in the NLCC. "Grant and Grayslake Central will be the ones standing in the way of defending our conference championship," he said. "We're returning several guys from last year and look to be in the hunt again for a conference championship with our eyes on a sectional championship."

GRANTCoach: Nick Nenni (second season)

Last season: second in NLCC meet, third in Class 3A Huntley sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Jason Thormo (sprints, relays), Bobby Cayet (sprints, relays hurdles), Micheal Smith (jumps, sprints, relays), Jacob Raisch (throws), Robert Yerushalmi (sprints, relays), Amen Alexander (jumps), D.J. Cardy (distance), juniors Justin Splitt (distance), Andrew Kuligoski (high jump, hurdles), Christian Suaste (middle distance), Juan Cervantes (middle distance), Alex Alva (sprints), Eddy Tregenza (pole vault), Luke Bedrosian (throws), Ben Jensen (jumps), Ryan Bishop (distance), sophomores John Bolton (sprints, jumps, relays), Xavier Patterson (jumps), Colton Romig (distance), Zach Deacon (middle distance)

Key newcomers: Junior Ben Kiesgan (throws), sophomores Brett Rigg (hurdles), Hunter Harvey (distance), freshmen Logan Blancett (throws), Clayton Cottrell (distance), Brandon Dinschel (distance)

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Outlook: There is no shortage of returning state-qualifying athletes in Fox Lake. Thormo won the 400 state title last year, while Cayet was ninth in the 300 hurdles). Thormo, Smith, Splitt and Bolton were part of state relays last year. Nenni has 12 returning all-NLCC athletes returning and 8 all-county picks. Thormo is headed to Illinois for track and field, while Raisch has signed with Central College. "Our top athletes this season are the three seniors, Bobby Cayet, Michael Smith and Jason Thormo, but we have more sophomore and junior depth this season than we've had in quite a while, not to mention several promising freshmen," said Nenni. "Having so much developing talent allows us to be creative with how we use those three seniors." Nenni expects the 1,600 relay team of Smith, Cayet, Splitt and Thormo to be one of the state's best. They ran a school record 3:21.79 indoors, which ranks No. 2 this season in the state and No. 13 in the country. The Bulldogs' 400 state-qualifying relay team of Cayet, Smith, Thormo and sophomore John Bolton, returns intact as well. Nenni also is high on his distance group. "This is the strongest distance group we've had in quite some time," he said. Being in contention for the NLCC is on the Bulldogs' mind. "The first goal of each season is to contend for a conference title," he said. "The NLCC looks to be as strong and as deep as it has ever been with defending champion Antioch returning a very strong group and teams such as Grayslake Central and Lakes able to score all over the track," said Nenni. "The entire conference has talent in certain areas, making it hard for any one team to run away from the pack. We were able to squeak out a win at the indoor championships, but we know it will be more difficult once we get outside to accomplish our goal."

GRAYSLAKE CENTRALCoach: Brent Pitt (16th season)

Last season: fourth in NLCC meet, tie for 10th in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Max Martinez (sprints, relays), AJ Lehman (400, relays), Matthew Thiel (triple jump, hurdles), Jack Chum (shot put), juniors Ethan Richardson (relays, long jump), Owen Aaberg (distance), sophomore Colin O'Malley (400, relays)

Key newcomers: Junior Sam Rotman (jumps, relays), sophomore Sushil Suresh (distance, relays), freshman Maurice Edwards (sprints, relays)

Outlook: Pitt sees the Rams with plenty of potential, particularly in the sprint corps. "We have some young talent coming up in our sprints," he said. "It's a good crop of kids that enjoys working hard every day at practice. It's going to be fun watching these kids grow and develop. We are expecting a lot as a group and we hope to meet those goals." Relays also are a bright spot. "We hope to get some relays to the state meet this year," said Pitt. "If we stay healthy and work hard, that will be a goal we intend to meet." Chum is a returning all-conference shot-putter. Overall, Pitt said Grayslake Central is focused on the end game. "Our team goals are to place high as a team at our conference and get as many athletes to the state meet that we can," he said. "We have the kids to do just that. We know we can get some individuals and relays to the state meet."

GRAYSLAKE NORTHCoach: Matt Zaluckyj (fourth season)

Last season: fifth in NLCC meet, 16th in Class 3A Huntley sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Connor Riss (distance), Logan Williams (400, relays), juniors Brian Kenebrew (jumps, 400), Jacky Guo (relays), Bryan Donaire (relays), Ralf Landmesser (hurdles), Brandt Batteau (distance), sophomore Josh Voss (jumps)


Key newcomers: Sophomores Tony Hines (high jumps, sprints), Christian Johnson (sprints), freshmen Tristan Ramsey (sprints), Armen Jerikian (sprints)

Outlook: Riss placed 12th in Class 2A cross country in the fall and was a Prep Top Times qualifier in the 1,600 last month. He was all-conference last year in the 1,600, while Batteau was all-conference in the 3,200 and Landmesser in the 110 hurdles. Batteau also was part of an all-NLCC 3,200 relay team, while Guo, Donaire and Voss were part of the all-NLCC 400 relay team. North has plenty of depth in the sprints department this spring. "This will allow us to attack both the open sprints and sprint relays and hopefully allow us to have the ability to score points in both," said Zaluckyj. "The sprint relays have been coming along nicely so far this season. Who will be in each quartet at the end of the season is yet to be determined, but our goal will be to have all four relays be all-conference." Voss, Kenebrew and Hines should be regular point-scorers in the jumps, while Riss will help with points in the bigger invites, Zaluckyj noted. Zaluckyj would like to see his squad finish top-three in the NLCC. "We know this will be a challenge with the talent of our conference, but the boys are ready to fight for it," he said. "We also will look to get back down to the state meet after many close misses last year."

LAKESCoach: Jason Ellerman (third season)

Last season: third in NLCC meet, 13th in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Jack Erwin (distance), Ethan Schommer (distance), Charlie Halberg (distance), junior Talon Knauf (distance), Colin Kao (pole vault), Greg Singson (pole vault), Even Selby (hurdles and sprints)

Key newcomers: Sophomores Kade Milette, Jacob Watson, freshman Mark Hunter

Outlook: Ellerman said the Eagles' strengths are in the distance races with Erwin, Schommer, Halberg and Knauf, and in pole vault with Kao and Singson listed as top performers there. Lakes' 3,200 relay had a recent 24th ranking in the state. "We would like to win conference and qualify as many people as possible downstate," said Ellerman.

ROUND LAKECoach: Kevin Brady (15th season)

Last season: 15th in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Kevon Elzey (jumps), Isaiah Andujo (shot put), Daniel Kadima (discus), Marco Barcenas (distance), Alex Urbina (distance), Justin Vega (sprints), Lennyn Patino (sprints), Juan Padilla (throws), Miguel Enriquez (throws), Eirc Pagaza (throws), juniors Elyjia Jones (sprints), Jonathan Cermeno (sprints, jumps), sophomores Diego Giron (distance), Cody Arenas (distance),

Key newcomers: Juniors Kendrick Grant (sprints, jumps), Remorian Gordon (sprints), sophomores Alex Gomez (hurdles), Bryan Serna (hurdles), Omar Munoz (jumps), freshman Jamariel Brown (sprints)

Outlook: Elzey was all-sectional in the triple jump last season. Brady said the Panthers are strongest in the throws and distance. "The throwers have a number of seniors who are really coming around to perform their best," he said. "The distance group is a mix of young athletes and veterans who have worked together since cross country and are pretty solid runners." Brady said the Panthers' sprint group has been completely rebuilt after graduation. "We are very young in both sprints and jumps so it will be about learning and getting better," he said. "Our throws and distance will have to carry some of the team with their experience." Brady sees bright skies ahead for the program. "Despite being very young, we do have a lot of potential," he said. "The key will be to make sure we work at harnessing that potential into results as we move forward in the season and keep our young guys around to see them develop into contenders in the future."

WAUCONDACoach: Megan Zemanek (18th season)

Last season: 16th second in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Brandon Acosta (sprints), David Robledo (throws), Nick Rinchiuso (sprints/jumps), Kunj Kordia (sprints), Erik Trela (sprints/pole vault), Wayne DeLoncker (sprints/pole vault); Juniors Jack Sammons (sprints), Eli Wurster (sprints/jumps/hurdles); Sophomores Matthew Czerwinski (sprints/jumps), Javerius McGuinn (sprints/jumps), Gabriel Silva (sprints), Aiden Miller (distance), Patrick Jenkins (mid-distance/distance), Casjen Riedell (sprints)

Outlook: The Bulldogs have another young squad, but plenty of sophomores, juniors and seniors competed in the sectional last season.


LAKE ZURICHCoach: Randal Dunbar (seventh season)

Last season: second in NSC meet, tie for 10th in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Senior Jason Sayre (sprints), juniors Tyler Remez (hurdles, jumps), Joey Shahwan (discus), sophomores Jack Gilboy (distance), Jake Myers (distance)

Key newcomers: Juniors Don Volante (high jump), Luke Mathis (throws, sprints)

Outlook: Dunbar ticks off multiple strengths for the Bears this spring. "The strength of our team will be our throwers this year with some great slots filling in with hurdles, triple jump, and as always with our distance runners," he said. Sayre is back from injury and will boost the sprints unit. Dunbar also likes the Bears' prospects in the field events. "We have a lot of field-event potential, which has shifted from years past," he said. "We will rely on the field rather than the track events. We are looking to be competitive in the conference this year. Our goal is to see a couple field events qualify for the state meet along with some distance runners."

LIBERTYVILLECoach: Stuart Mendelsohn (third season)

Last season: seventh in NSC meet, ninth in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Senior Max Sauers (800, 1,600), juniors Will Gordon (1,600, 3,200), Ethan Burkhart (100, 200, 400, 800 wheelchair division), Justin Carlson (high jump, 1,600 relay), sophomores Liam Tucker (3,200), Marc Micheloti (400)

Key newcomers: Senior Jaren Seay (400, 1,600 relay), junior Brian Stacy (sprints), freshmen Andrew Brooks (400, 800, 1,600 relay), Dylan McCarty (1,600)

Outlook: Mendelsohn likes Libertyville's team-first attitude, along with its sportsmanship and demonstration of excellent character. "This team is very young with a lot of aspirations," he said. "Our team goal is to qualify as many athletes to state as possible, improve upon last season and for every athlete to hit their personal bests." Burkhart won the 800 wheelchair division state title and was state runner-up in the 100." Mendelsohn is high on the 1,600 relay team, which is eying the 2015 school record.

MUNDELEINCoach: Kurt Rutz (second season)

Last season: fifth in NSC meet, sixth in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Mateusz Brak (high jump, hurdles), Aidan Afonso (relay), Michael Parduhn (relay), juniors Dillon Blake (3,200), Carter Schorr (relay), Sophomore Cody Gehrett (300 hurdles), Matt Empalmado (long jump)

Key newcomers: Senior Dario Carillo (800, 1,600, 3,200), junior Trevor Warner

Outlook: Blake was a state qualifier in the 3,200 and broke the school frosh-soph record in that race last year (9:23). Brak was all-sectional in the high jump, while Empalmado earned the same honor in the long jump. Afonso, Parduhn and Schorr were state qualifiers in the 3,200 relay, while Gehrett was all-conference in the 300 hurdles. Shawn Patrick and Syam Atade were all-conference and all-sectional as part of the 400 and 800 relays last year. Mundelein will be strong in the distance races, coming off a second state cross-country appearance in a row this past fall. Mundelein also returns 3/4 of its state 3,200 relay team. The Mustangs also have depth in the middle distances, while Brak and Gerhett lead the way in the hurdles. "We have a lot of depth in the middle distances with seven or eight runners competing for spots on that relay," said Rutz. "We have a good young group of sprinters who will challenging for spots." The Mustangs' 1,600 relay unit has the goal of breaking the school record of 4:27. Rutz is optimistic for this spring. "It's hard to replace an individual like Bobby Nuzzo (all-state performer, SIUE), but with improvements in the distance events, hurdles and young sprinter corps, we hope to improve on last year's conference finish," he said. "We have the potential to qualify for state in multiple events."

STEVENSONCoach: Andy Farrissey (23rd season)

Last season: first in NSC meet, fourth in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Jordan Vincent (sprints), Shane Johnson (sprints), David Smolensky (sprints), Jahleel Perrin (sprinters), Anand Batbaatar (throws), Dan Erdenetsogt (throws), Maema Njongmeta (throws)

Outlook: "Sprints and throws should be the strength of our team," said Farrissey. "With throws, we have some veteran guys back." Smolensky, Perrin and Johnson all are returning all-state performers from Charleston a year ago. Farrissey also is optimistic about the team's sprint relays. "The sprint relays are coming along," he said. Keep an eye on the Patriots' jumpers as well. "In the jumps we have some young guys who will hopefully develop as the year goes on," said Farrissey. Overall, Stevenson is aiming for a crowded bus down to Charleston. "Our goal every year is to try and get as many state placers as possible," said Farrissey.

WARRENCoach: Josh Williams (first season)

Last season: third in NSC meet, third in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Bryan Holland (800, 1,600), Cyrus Braza (400, 800), juniors Ryan Conley (100, 200, long jump), Hunter Subry (400, 800), Cortez Albarran (triple jump, 110 hurdles, high jump)

Key newcomers: Junior Noah Galuska (long jump, 200, 800 relay), sophomore Griffin Pasha (800), freshman Luke Wiley (1,600)

Outlook: The Blue Devils return all four members of their state-qualifying 3,200 relay team from a year ago in Holland, Jason Langevin, Subry and Braza. Those four also were all-North Suburban as was Albarran. Williams said it's not out of the realm of possibility for a state medal for that 3,200 quartet. Look for Warren to excel in the distance events. "The distance crew would be one of the strengths of this team," Williams said. "There are multiple guys who can score points within this group and all four guys from the state-qualifying relay are back." Williams added Warren has a group of four or five jumpers who can go 20-plus feet. "I like the depth that this team has and I think we should be competitive against our conference and other schools," he said. Warren's 1,600 relay returns three of four that narrowly missed a state trip. "I think we have guys in just about every event we feel can compete with the best in the state," said Williams when assessing his running and field events crews. "This team has a lot of depth and has shown it is willing to work at it to get better and to reach their goals." Williams said the challenge has been laid out to the group to be on a mission to get better. "We established a culture of core values and these have guided how we practice and the way we compete," he said. "The conference will be tough again. Each school has guys who are some of the top performers in 3A. Stevenson, Lake Zurich, Zion, Lake Forest and Mundelein all have really strong teams that will make the conference meet a good one."


VERNON HILLSCoach: Mark Morgan (first season)

Last season: third in CSL North, eighth in Class 3A Grayslake North sectional

Top returning athletes: Seniors Tyler Gonzalez (400), Patrick Sear (pole vault), Calvin Wu (long jump), Alex Choi (discus), junior Hunter Matuch (shot put)

Key newcomers: Sophomores Ryan Kim (hurdles, long jump), Alex Utsis (400), freshmen Kamrin Martin (sprints), Mayank Dubey (hurdles), Sam Gothelf (shot put), Owen Ray (distance)

Outlook: Gonzalez and Sear are returning state qualifiers and Gonzalez was one of the top-rated 400 runners in the state during the recently completed indoor season. Wu, Choi and Matuch all had success at the conference and sectional meet levels a year ago. "Tyler probably will be our leading point-scorer this year," said Morgan. "He has scored for us during the indoor season in everything from the 55 dash to the 800 run. Going to the outdoor season, he is rated as one of the best 400-meter runners in the state. He also is a huge help in our 4 x 400 relay." Morgan is equally excited about the team's sprint-relay prospects. "What we are really working forward to is these athletes competing on our sprint-relay teams," he said. "Through the indoor season one of our strongest events was the 4 x 400 relay. We have a lot of different pieces we can fit together in our relays and we look for the relay teams to score a lot of points for us." Morgan said a basic goal is improvement throughout the season. "Even though it sounds like a stereotype, one of our basic goals is to have every athlete improve in every meet," he said. "Ever athlete has a starting point and a generic ceiling, but as long as they keep working hard and improving, we're happy as a coaching staff. Another goal is to send as many athletes as possible to the state meet. Having moved up to 3A makes this more of a challenge, but it's a challenge we look forward to. We also want to challenge for the conference championship. We represented ourselves well indoors, we just need to gain a little more depth in some of our events. Overall, we're looking forward to having some fun and competing to the best of our ability."


CARMELCoach: Jacob Solarz (third season)

Last season: sixth in ESCC meet, eighth in Class 2A Richmond-Burton sectional

Top returning athletes: Senior Sam Wahlers (pole vault), juniors Ryan Fremgen (long jump), Alexander Speer (800, 1,600), Tim Milner (high jump), Joe Nalewaik (shot put), sophomores Carter Barhorst (discus), Evan Ashley (3,200), Christian Stieber (400)

Key newcomers: Freshmen Luke Daniels (100, 200, 400), Andrew Kowalski (100, 200, 400), Ryan Medina (shot put), James Murphy (100, 200, 400), Peter Murphy (100, 200, 400), Luke Nalewaik (discus) Kyle Pulido (400, 800), Preston Pierce (400, 800)

Outlook: Wahlers and Milner both are returning state qualifiers. Wahlers was the team MVP last season after winning the pole vault conference title and a sectional title. Milner took second at the sectional in the high jump. "Our upperclassmen have proved to be tremendous leaders during the offseason and indoor season," said Solarz. "They have worked hard to become better athletes and they have made sure that our underclassmen understand what is expected and needed of them to compete at a high level. In competition, our strength this season will be our field events, especially our jumps. There are several athletes in these events who are capable of medaling at conference and potentially representing us in the state series in Charleston." Solarz noted that list includes Wahlers, Joe Fruscione (long jump), Leo Britten (shot put), Milner, Speer and Barhorst. Solarz also has high hopes for the team's 3,200 relay that includes Andrew White, Speer, Zachary Young and Ashley. "We have a lot more depth this season than we have had in the past," said Solarz. "We feel this will make us more competitive in conference because we will be able to field a complete frosh-soph and varsity lineup."

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